What conflict avoiders need to know!

I’m an expert conflict avoider.  How about you?  I grew up in a household where there was a lot of yelling and rage and verbal abuse.  As a result, everything within me tries desperately to avoid anything in my marriage that could result in tension, raised voices, or anything remotely resembling conflict.

However, avoiding conflict is a recipe for disaster in a marriage.  I learned that the hard way in my first marriage, which failed.  Here’s the thing.  If you don’t address the things that are really bothering you about your husband or your marriage, a seed of bitterness is planted in your heart.  That seed slowly takes root and grows, and after months and years go by, you will most likely grow to despise your husband and want a divorce!  Not good.

So, let’s commit to respectfully, lovingly, and diligently address the things that are bothering us within our marriages.  Hebrews 12:15 warns us not to let “any bitter root grow up among you to cause trouble…”  So, ask God to give you the courage to gently and respectfully discuss your concerns with your husband.  Ask God to give you the courage to express your needs and desires to your husband.  Do not become invisible.  When you start stuffing your feelings and immediately cave in during disagreements, toxic resentment will start to grow inside you. Don’t let that happen!

Helping your husband become the spiritual leader

Many women lament the fact that their husbands won’t pray with them and their husbands aren’t really the spiritual leader….but, here’s something I’ve observed over the years that may shed some light on your predicament.  If you want your husband to become the spiritual leader of your family, you have to stop being the leader yourself!  Sometimes women, including myself, can be so eager to bring spiritual disciplines into our family life that we leave no gap for our husbands to fill.  Perhaps this is why God repeatedly instructs wives to be submissive!  Titus 2:5 tells women to be “self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands”. 

In other words, instead of you jumping in and praying for the kids when they get tucked into bed at night, you could ask your husband for his help with that.  If you would like the Bible to be read aloud after dinner, tell your husband you love the sound of his voice when he reads and ask him if he would read the Bible.  After he has read the Bible passage, ask him what he thinks God is saying…and then listen attentively to his answer.  When you’re not feeling well, you could tell him it would mean the world to you if he were to just lay a hand on your shoulder and say a simple prayer.  Even a one-sentence prayer is fine.  And when he does any of these things, be encouraging and thankful!  Build him up.

When a woman takes over any area of leadership, many men will simply back off.  So, if you want your husband to become the spiritual leader of your home, you need to allow there to be a bit of a void in that area. Then ask him for his help.  🙂

— or view this topic as a 3 minute VIDEO HERE

Harness the power of team in marriage

I was reflecting recently about how many affairs happen between people who work closely together.  The boss has an affair with his long-time female assistant.  The female newscaster has an affair with the male newscaster who works in the same studio every day.  The pastor has an affair with his long-time secretary.  I realized something profound.  These people ended up having an affair because a super strong emotional bond was created as they worked together as a team over many years.

There is great bonding power when a man and woman work side by side as a team toward a common goal.  As they fight together through challenges and adversity, they bond.  As they work side-by-side over many years, they develop a history of shared experiences and memories that only they know about…and that creates a special bond.  The power of team is highlighted in the well-known verse in Ecclesiastes Chapter 4:  “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Thought for you:  How can you take this knowledge of the “power of team” and use it to foster an even deeper bond between you and your husband?  Can you intentionally begin working together on some common projects or goals?  Think about it…because the “power of team” can create a super strong glue for your marriage.

Leave room for the Holy Spirit to work

The other day, a relative said some things about a person I love that I really found hurtful.  My first instinct was to emotionally withdraw from that person…but that’s a dysfunctional behavior I’m trying to end.  So, I started to tell that person what I really thought about his comments!  Thank God, the Holy Spirit gently stopped me.

You see, sometimes God wants us to confront someone who is sinning against us or doing something wrong.  But other times, God wants us to step back and allow His Holy Spirit to do the convicting in that other person’s heart, especially if that person is a believer.  In John 16:7-8, Jesus tells his disciples, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment”   Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, and he explained that one of the Spirit’s jobs is to convict people of sin.

What I’m learning is that I need to pause and consult God when someone is doing something that wounds me or bothers me.  I need to ask God for direction.  Does God want me to respectfully and lovingly confront that person, or does God want me to step back and allow His Holy Spirit to do the confronting.

Back to my story. When God stopped me from laying into my relative the other day and I decided to leave the “confrontation” up to the Holy Spirit…that relative actually came to me and apologized within a few hours. Today’s question for you:  Do you pause long enough to get guidance from God before reacting?

Best question to ask when you’re upset with him

There’s a golden phrase I’ve discovered.  It prevents my husband from getting defensive when I’m upset or concerned about something he has said or done.  Instead of accusing him of doing something wrong, I have learned to kindly and sincerely ask this question: “Help me understand why…”

This simple question prevents the monster of defensiveness from raising its ugly head.  By asking my husband to help me understand, I’m communicating two things to my husband.  1) I really do care about his perspective and feelings, and 2) I’m acknowledging there may actually be a legitimate reason for why he did or said whatever.  At least, I’m giving him a chance to explain himself before I start arguing with him or condemning him!!

By asking my husband to help me understand his perspective, I’m avoiding a foolish argument.  Proverbs 18:2 says “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”  By asking my husband to help me understand his perspective, I’m pleasing both God and my husband by living out the instructions in Philippians 2:4 “Each of you should consider not only your own interests, but also the interests of others.”

Try this phrase when you sense a potential ugly argument is headed your way.  You can not only use this phrase with your husband, but with your children, your in-laws, your co-workers, your boss, and more.  Again, the phrase (actually a question) is….”Help me understand why…”

Understanding a core need of husbands

Men are wired differently than women.  Duh!  One of the ways most men differ from us is that, instead of sitting and talking about their feelings and deepest longings, they like to do stuff.  You may not realize it, but most husbands really want their wives to do stuff with them!  They want to spend time with you.

This is really made apparent way back at the creation of the world.  Right after God created man, He said in Genesis 2:18, “It’s not good for man to be alone.  I will create a helper suitable for him.”  God knew Adam needed companionship!

Make it a point this week to show some interest in joining your husband in one of his hobbies or activities or even one of his errands.  Does he like to golf?  I bet he would love for you to go with him and watch him, or have him give you a lesson on how to play golf if you don’t already know.  Does he like to ride a bicycle?  Get a bike and take a ride with him.  Does he like to tinker with fixing up old cars?  Sit and watch him and ask if he can explain what he’s doing.  Maybe you can hand him a tool as he works.  Does he need to pick up some paint at a home improvement store?  Ask if you can tag along.

Bonus:  You’ll likely find that as you’re doing something together, men find it easier to talk to you!  Look forward to some actual conversations.  🙂

Finding hope when life is hard

We’re all anxious right now…maybe even downright fearful.  What will happen to our finances during the coronavirus outbreak?  Will we lose our job, our home, our cars?  Will I be one of the people who catches covid-19?  And if you’re not worried about that, then there are a myriad of other things that might be stealing your joy and your hope.  Perhaps your marriage is falling apart or your kids are making poor decisions.

The truth is that, until we get to heaven, we will all experience tough times here on earth.  And of course, Satan loves to pile on by whispering negative, hopeless thoughts into our minds when he sees that we’re struggling.  We tend to start reciting a list of complaints and fears…about people in our life, health problems, finances, the way we look, and on and on.  Instead of reflecting the love of Jesus to those around us, our facial expression portrays “woe is me”.

For a believer, that’s ridiculous!  If you’ve made Jesus your Lord, you have his protection and power at your disposal.  Your prayers are powerful!  James 5:16  “The prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective”.  And even if your prayers aren’t answered EXACTLY how you think God should, you can trust Him to redeem every hardship in your life.  I love what He tells me in Psalm 103:4 “He redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion”.  When life gets discouraging…when anxiety starts eroding your hope…bring your concerns to Jesus and relax into his strong arms.

I grasp hope and peace when I choose to trust in Jesus.  He is at work!  His ways are perfect.  Seek His perspective on all that’s happening. Ask him to help you understand what he’s doing in this challenging moment.  Ask him to redeem your seemingly hopeless situation.  He’s so creative!  He’s working behind the scenes right now.

— or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO HERE